I swear I have an excuse this time.
My last laptop started to turn on me. Everytime I would write something, the file would corrupt and eventually I just gave up. I tried writing on my phone (Two small drabble fics from SnK, haha), but that's not the same. But over New Years, a friend gave me his old laptop and now I'm back! Hail Smaug!
I'm probably rusty, so small warning if this sucks. Someone over on dA offered to be my editor, but I haven't been on that place since the Mass GamTav/SolKat NSFW Delete of 2013. If she gets back to me, I'll update the revised versions later.
Tavros blinks, eyeing the closet Gamzee fled to in a rush. Few moments pass and his mouth opens, a question forming on the tip of his tongue before he shuts it, not quite knowing exactly what to say. After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, he finds his words again, but before he could utter a sound, the boy hears his bedroom door open, followed by a disgruntled Karkat and an unknown blonde man with a creepy smile, who's fidgeting with a pair of round brass goggles on his crown.
"Hello," the man bellows, still smiling, reaching out his hand for the boy to shake. He takes it, timidly mumbling a 'hello' in reply, stiffly ignoring the pain shooting up his arm from the strong grip. The boys' eyes flicker to Karkat, who's mouthing a single question at Tavros ('Where is he?'). He responds by darting his eyes at the closet door. The raven sighs in relief, fully unnoticed by the man still towering over the mohawked boys' bed.
"My name is Horuss Zahhak," he begins, his hands fiddling with his black gloves, "I was a, uhm, friend of your father." At the mention of Tavros' deceased parent, the man's smile shrinks to something sadder, distant, and his cobalt eyes darken. By anyone else's wondering eyes, that expression can be mistaken as simply a friend mourning for another.
Not Tavros. He's a way too familiar to this look.
He's seen his father's old girlfriends give him that look back in Prospit, on his rare trips to get his medication when his dad can't be bothered. They would try and chat him up, hoping that by forging some form of bond with the object of their affections son, they can worm their way back to his father's heart. It doesn't work (a mix of Tavros' non-existent social skills and his dad's playboy attitude drives them away), but they can't help but try.
This time, it almost breaks the boys heart.
Horuss catches himself, wringing his wrists with a forced grin and with an awkward laugh, gestures to the chair on the other side of the bed. Karkat grumbles out an inaudible curse before trudging over and dragging the chair to the man, nearly slamming it down. Oblivious to Karkat's obtrusive behavior (or rather ignoring), the man sits, bringing the attention once again to the squirming Tavros.
"Now then," he shifts in the chair, taking in a deep breath before continuing, "I don't know if you can guess why I'm here… Or if your father has ever told you about me… But nonetheless, I'm here on his request, in the event of his untimely… passing." His words are forced, like he's in disbelief. Tavros doesn't blame him. But he wishes the man would stop mentioning it. The wound hardly crusted over.
"I'm, sorry…?" Tavros offers, one part questioning his motives and one part condolences, trying and succeeding in holding in his stutter. He can almost see Gamzee's congratulatory smile from behind the door. Horuss smiles, nodding in thanks before resuming.
"Yes, well, he asked me for a favor. One that will have a large impact on your life, if you choose to accept naturally." He nods again, accompanied by a large smile that almost puts Gamzee's to shame.
(It's not the same though, he reminds himself. Not even close.)
Karkat chooses now to butt in with his colorful lexicon. "Mind getting to the point, Horuss? The kid's sick, and I'm pretty sure you don't want his peasant germs." The last two words drip out of his mouth like acid. Tavros shivers. Horuss nods, but the creepy smile doesn't leave his face.
"Of course, my apologies." He plays with the hem of his gloves again before addressing the boy. "My brother and I are both engineers. Most days we work with the Empresses army, building her soldier steambots, working on the airships, that sort of work. However, as of late Equius, my brother, and I both have taken to a pet project of ours." He pauses, for what you assume for dramatic effect. "It's still in its experimental phase, and we've only got few results due to limited testing, but all of them came out exceptional, and your father wanted you participate, so to speak."
Karkat groans and Tavros lets out a very intelligent 'uh…' in the face of the man's word vomit. He half expects Gamzee to laugh, and the cycle would complete itself.
"Um, what, is this project..?" The boy asks, almost dreading the answer he'll get. He could swear the strangers eyes sparked with pride before answering.
Tavros blinks. Then his heart nearly stops. Karkat's eyes widen in surprise. And the boy could swear he saw an enlarged indigo optic peeking through the closet door. Horuss' composure remains unchanged, but he could see an aura of smugness radiate from the man.
"Rufioh wanted you to live life at the fullest," he says, and the boys heart clenches at the mention of his dad's name, "without the hindrance of that." He ruefully points at the wheelchair stationed on the other side of the bed.
Tavros' first reaction is to assume that he's joking. Because really. Who would want to help him? Even if it is a favor from a man that Horuss is still infatuated with. Then he just sort of becomes… Hopeful? The thought of never having to use the chair again is appealing.
Okay, more than appealing. It's gogdamn exciting. The boy is tempted to punch the air in glee.
Horuss then explains to him the situation. The legs are made from a mixture of steel and copper, the same alloy mixture used for the army steambots. His legs will have to amputated beforehand (Tavros pales visibly at the note), but he will have feeling in them. Not enough to cause him pain or such, just enough to control to the limbs. The legs will attach to the mid thigh (where he still has minimal feeling) with some extra casting reaching the top. The legs are detachable, for hygiene and such, but in doing so would cause pain ("Detaching your nerves from the nerve sensors in the legs," he explains, "You'll get used to it.").He would have to go to a therapist to relearn how to walk and would have to appoint an engineer for regular tune ups. As the explanations continue, Tavros starts to feel a little overwhelmed and Karkat asks if he could hurry up.
"Now," he finishes, complying with the scowling raven. He pats the bedding next to you in an almost nurturing way. "I don't expect an answer right away. I'll send more information later via messenger later and you can take your time in getting back to me. This is still a lot to take in." He rises from the chair, brushing off invisible dust off his leather engineer coat. "I must be off. My brother might have destroyed the lab. I'll see myself out." And with a curt nod and perfect form he walks away, only stopping to regard Karkat.
"Karkat, if you see Gamzee anywhere-"
"Bite me." He retaliates quick enough to induce whiplash.
Horuss sighs, but doesn't say anymore, and just like that he departs, leaving the bed ridden boy to his (chaotic whirlwind of) thoughts.
He's getting legs. He's getting a pair of prosthetic legs that move. He's going to walk again.
Before he could make any word of pure joy the closet door busts open and a black and copper blur darts to the bed and attacks Tavros with kisses to his jaw and face. The boy giggles and Karkat scoffs before occupying the seat once taken by Horuss.
"What is it with the fucking nobles getting it on with peasants? First my aggravating brother and that fucking greased up duke dick and now your dad and that." He jolts his thumb at the door, scowling with the intensity of the entire royal army.
"Dun all up and forget your lova and the Heiress, once upon a motherfuckin' time." Gamzee quips, pausing momentarily in his assault.
"Thank you, Gamzee, for reminding me of that. Really." He is not thankful.
Shifting the bot to a better position next to him, Tavros kisses the tip of Gamzee's paint covered nose. The bot mewls in approval and nuzzles the boys' side. Karkat gags, louder than necessary. Gamzee thought he was going to actually vomit.
"Gamzee, why did you, dash when Horuss came?" It is a legitimist question, one that could have been asked at a better time, but the boy couldn't help himself. Despite his giddiness over the idea of walking again, the sight of the clown fleeing to his closet over a strange engineer is rather disconcerting.
Karkat, holding a bowl of soup to his lips, pauses mid sip to let out a nondescript hum. Gamzee looks up from his spot on the neck and shrugs.
"Really, kid? That's going to be the topic of choice?" Karkat purses his lips as he sets the empty bowl on the end table.
"My, eh, former caretaker. Before Dirk-bro. Motherfuckers ain't bad for a quick check up. But…" Gamzee stops, rubbing the back of his neck. "The fuckers are touchy. Really motherfuckin' touchy. Like they'd grab and prod and do all kinds o' shit I ain't all too fond of." The bot grins sheepishly.
"Doesn't that sound familiar." The raven bites. Gamzee shoots him a half-hearted glare.
"It's alright now; Dirk-bro don't pull that shit on me." The bot finishes lamely, half-shrugging nonchalantly.
"They are obsessed with him, is what he means. He'd come back more fucking twitchy than normal and he'd mess up during those shows of his." Gamzee frowns, but doesn't correct him.
The boy imagines the bot strapped to a workbench. He sees a pair of hands dragging across his copper form. He sees tools and parts of the like, discarded and unused. He hears Gamzee asking, pleading, them to stop. They don't .
Tavros pales, gripping the hand of his steambot. Something heated coils down in the pit of his stomach, nearly making him sick. He squeezes harder, possessively. He starts to see red. The clown blinks, pulling at the boy's clenched grip.
The boy flinches, tugging unconsciously at the bots' hand. Looking up he sees Gamzee's glowing orbs peering inquisitively. Next to him, Karkat remains neutral, but his attention rests at Tavros. "Tav? You okay?" He cocks his head to the side.
He swallows, not feeling the slightest better. Heat rising to his cheeks, the boy sinks into the sheets, hoping that they might eat him whole. Gamzee goes down with him, and pokes his heated nose, grinning twofold. "So, how do ya feel 'bout gettin' new legs, Tavvy?" The copper clown quirks, way too eager to change the subject.
Tavros blinks. He had nearly forgotten all about that. The most important moment perhaps in his life (aside from meeting Gamzee, his mind adds), and it's pushed aside just like that. Somehow, it doesn't alarm him as much as it should.
"Does it bother you?" He suddenly asks. "That it's, um, him? Them? Giving me legs?"
Karkat's face twitches to something more concern-like before returning back to its neutral semi-scowling state. Gamzee nearly leaps from the confines of Tavros' sheets before taking both his hands and roughly cupping the boy's face.
"No no no no no, motherfuck no-" he chants, shaking his head in time with the words, almost desperately "do not let me be the reason that you give up a chance to motherfuckin' walk again. Please please please." He emphasizes each word with a vigorous shake of his head and his hands start to squeeze tight around his face.
Karkat, who's been uncharacteristically quiet the whole time, pulls Gamzee's hands away from the boy's head and smacks the bot on the forehead. "Calm the fuck down."
"Aren't you afraid that they might do the same to him?" Karkat blurts harshly, and in that moment, it feels like time stopped. Tavros wasn't even thinking of that, and by the way Gamzee's eyes flicker between anger and confusion, neither did he.
Then the bot's body screamed.
"I won't MOTHERFUCKING let them."
Karkat slaps him again, making the clown lurch backward.
"I'll go with him. Jegus, Gamzee." The raven announces. Said bot gives him a peculiar glare.
"You're motherfucking squeamish." He points out.
"Then someone will come with me. That way if I pass out in my own vomit, they can fight them long enough in case they do something and you can go in and rescue the kid." He shrugs, like it's the most common thing in the world.
Gamzee stares for a few silent moments before giving the man a fond grin, his eyes glowing back to its normal shade of indigo . "You've been all up and readin' that motherfuckin' romance stuff. Haven't ya, Karbro?"
Tavros has never felt more out of the loop in his life. But he ends up chuckling alongside Gamzee anyway.
I swear I almost turned Tavros into Sherlock for a minute. Maybe another time.